|...salt flats left by the receding Salt Sea of Israel|
by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Matthew 5:13
The main source of salt in the region of Israel was the area of the Salt Sea (popularly known as the Dead Sea), especially the massive, about seven miles long, salt cliffs of Jebel Usdum (Mount Sodom). The face of the ridge is constantly changing as weather interacts with the rock salt. Ezekiel 47:11 ((click on highlighted words to view content) highlights the importance of the Salt Sea's salt. The Hebrew people harvested salt by pouring sea water into pits and letting the water evaporate until only salt was left. They used the mineral for seasoning and as a preservative. In 2Chronicles 13:5 King Abijah referred to YHVH's covenant promise to David that he will not lack a man to seat on Israel's throne as a Salt Covenant - that is a covenant that can never be broken. Since genuine salt, by itself, can never lose its flavor as its chemical properties do not change, this saying in Matthew becomes difficult to understand. A saying in the Talmud (b. Bekhorot 8b) attributed to R. Joshua ben Chananja (ca. CE 90), when asked the question "When salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again?" is said to have replied, "By salting it with the afterbirth of a mule." He was then asked, "Then does the mule (being sterile) bear young?" to which he replied: "Can salt lose its flavor?" The point appears to be that both are impossible. So, what was Yeshua trying to convey - under what circumstances could salt lose its flavor?
Salt is a compound of sodium (Na), an unstable metal that is highly flammable and chloride (Cl), a lethal gas. When salt is exposed to extreme heat, these elements are released - producing an environment that causes heat retention. Those who know their way around cooking techniques know that salt added to water makes the water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time. The background of the saying Yeshua referred to above points to the use by mid-east bakers of the time to line the floor of their ovens with salt blocks to make the fire hotter. Under the intense heat of the oven fire, these blocks would eventually crystallize and undergo a change in chemical composition, finally becoming unusable. At that point, they would be crushed and thrown out with their only usefulness defined as a covering for the roadways that were heavily walked upon. This verse comes immediately on the heels of the Sermon on the Mount (often referred to as the Beatitudes) that begins with the chapter in Matthew 5 where Yeshua describes the makeup of spirit, the "chemical composition" if you will, of those who long for the Spirit of the Father.
|"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with Spirit and fire." Matthew 3:11|
|...the crucible of fire|
The Greek word translated as the English power used in John 1:12 is exousia, the same word which is used for the translated word authority in Luke 9:1 and means - power of choice. It is only those who exercise their '"power of choice" (meaning the choice given them to exercise their belief in the Name of YHVH) that become sons of YHVH. The authority of choice we are given is the power to choose to exhibit our faith, our belief in His Words to be Truth in the face of obstacles that are, seemingly, overwhelming. Every one of the Beatitudes listed describes how the external should be responded to from within. The last involves persecution. It is amusing to think that when true persecution comes, people believe those qualities listed in the Beatitudes will somehow miraculously just rise from within to be exhibited toward perfect strangers when they have yet to be exercised toward those whom we love and are in the closest proximity to us right now.
|"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Messiah's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." I Peter 4:12-13.|
...purified seven times
Hebrews 5:8 says that Yeshua, our example, learned obedience to the Father by the things which he suffered. Our natural, human inclination is to recoil from the heat of the fire because it is not pleasant and is uncomfortable; but, in so doing, we extract ourselves from the very process used to fashion us, to shape us and to mold us into His image. It is in the extremes that we learn of His nature. If we choose to exhibit His nature in the extremes then the power of Spirit is unleashed within us to temper us to withstand and, in the midst of the fire, to be a "sweet smelling" flavor to the rest of the world.
Part One - Salt of the Earth
Part Two - Faith or Fear?
Part Three - Seasoning
Part Four - the Tithe
|"For we are unto Elohim a sweet savour of Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost..." 2Corinthians 2:15|
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com. While not claiming to have all the answers, it would be an honor to partake with you of what the Spirit is uncovering.